What’s Happened So Far (Warning… Long Post)

I cannot believe I have not posted in so long. Thanksgiving came and went, then my surgery, and then Christmas came and went, and New Year’s. Work has been super busy and life has been crazy. I wanted to post each time my diet changed, but it looks like that did not happen, so I will fill you in.

I went to the doctor the week before my surgery and had my nutrition class. We got to see what we should be eating, what not to eat, what were good proteins and what were not. We discussed vitamins, the calendar of how we will be eating over the next two months, and things along those lines. The class was expensive at $80.00! But, it must be done. Funny thing, we I signed in and registered, and then they sent us up to the classroom, they gave us our packet of info and a little baggie with calcium chews you could get at the Apothecary there at the hospital. Of course, this was day two of the liquid diet. She told us that we could try the chews, there were around 5 in the bag, and that she would just eat half to test them out, and we did not HAVE to eat the whole thing. Yeah, well you are skinny. I was like, “FOOD!” So you know once I was given the go ahead, I gobbled each one up. They tasted like candy. Sweet, yummy, and solid food. I learned all about how the surgery was supposed to go, what my procedure entailed, and a nutritionist reviewed our diet from here on out. We weighed me one more time, to see how much I was pretty much before the liquid diet began. I also got to see my surgeon that day and we discussed carbs, how bad they were, and a website he wanted me to check out to learn about my new eating ways. Then we went home and prepared for the surgery.

The liquid diet, I have to say, was not all terrible. I only had to do it for one week, but I am not sure if I could have done it for two weeks before. One thing that I discovered that was amazing was 98 % fat free cream of chicken soup. Mix that with milk, flavorless protein powder? You would think you were fine dining compared to everything else. I also had plenty of popsicles and protein shakes. Cookies and Cream and Peanut Butter Cookie were my favorite. I made it through plenty of yummy meals, and gatherings without trying anything. So I felt good about it.

I did have one problem before my liquid diet though. I never thought I was nervous, worried, anxious, etc. about the surgery. However, what I thought, and what my subconscious thought were apparently two separate things. Starting on the Saturday before the liquid diet I thought I might be getting sick. My throat felt funny and I felt strange. I told my mom that day that I might have to go to the doctor because I did not feel good and I was worried about not having the surgery if I was sick. Then later it hit me. I had done this before. My throat was numb. My throat, tongue, lower half of my face, ears, (teeth) were all numb. I could not taste anything, I could not gauge temperature, even feel when something was in my mouth. It made for a horrible weekend and days leading up to surgery. That Saturday for the Iron Bowl we had pizza. I could not taste it. Sunday we went and ate Mexican at one of my favorite locales. It tasted like nothing. Monday, the last day of regular food for a while, we ate fish, and once again, it was like a lump of nothing. And that is how it was for that entire week and right up until surgery. Because of all this, it messed with my hearing and I had terrible vertigo. All bad. Even my doctor said it sounded strange. Everyone was also worried about my blood pressure because it was extremely high. It calmed down eventually though, thank goodness.

The clear liquids were not the best the day before surgery, but it could have been worse. I worked that day, so I stayed busy, and did not notice too bad. Because I could not taste anything, I did not feel like I missed out all that much.

The day of surgery I was a little worried and had a brief moment when I thought, “What am I doing?” But, we will get there. I got to my little room and got ready to go back. I took my surgery ready pictures and posted them to a private group through the hospital. They tried to get an IV going in me, and the nurse said she could not find a vein. That is very strange for me. She tried, and I tensed and she poked, and “lost it,” and just kept poking me again, and dragging the needle around, and boy did it hurt. Finally she said the anesthesiologist could numb my hand and put one in. Well, if you have ever had this done, the numbing shot hurts more than anything and does not really do its job with an IV. She got my hand and poked, and got the IV in, however, there was a problem. When she did it, I felt a warm gush all over my hand and everywhere else like my arm, etc. She started wiping everything off and I asked her, “Is that my blood?” She said that she “hit a juicy vein.” My hand was like a little murder victim. Later after surgery I looked at it and there was blood all over it, dried between all my fingers, in the tape, etc.

Finally, finally! They wheeled me back for surgery. I remember having this thought of, am I sure about this? Is this really what I want to do? Am I crazy? But I knew this is what I wanted. They got me back, told me to relax and breathe deep and…

When I woke from surgery I wanted two things. Something to drink and my mom. Even though I was completely out of it, I kept apologizing over and over. “I am sorry you have to take care of me.” “I am sorry I am being so much trouble.” She would bump into me and I would say, “I am so sorry.” I noticed right away that my chest hurt. That was because they had done a hiatal hernia repair. I did not even know that I had one that needed repairing. I asked my doctor why my gastroenterologist had not found this a long time ago, and he said they just had better ways to see it. I felt super sore, but was not terrible. More than anything my chest hurt. I asked for something for pain, this was around 1:00 pm. My nurse would come in at different times, and I would ask for something, and she never would bring me anything. I had made friends with some women during my class and throughout the process, and they were going walking. They called it the zombie walk. So we walked around the hospital wing like we were instructed. They could not believe that I had not had any pain medication, they had it all day. I went back to my room, and around 7:00-7:30 pm they finally brought me something. Somehow my chart got messed up and it was down that I was allergic to all types of pain medication. What?! So aggravating.

Friends came to visit, call, or send me beautiful flowers, and sadly, I was a hot mess. I would be texting or chatting and simply drop my head, out like a light, and the phone would fall in my lap. Or the cup of ice chips would just dump out onto the bed. The next day they removed my drain, IV, gave me a shot of blood thinner (which left a Huge bruise), and I was on my way. Do you want to know how much tubing is in you when you have a drainage tube in? About a foot. You read that right. At least a foot. And it was not the most pleasant thing to have removed. I am sorry if you are getting ready for this, but I am just being honest.  

When I got home, I could only have clear liquids for so many days, then full liquids. I went home Wednesday from the hospital, and honestly, if I could, I would have gone back to work on Thursday if allowed. I felt that great. I was sore, of course, but I could be sore at work. I only took pain medication twice, so I felt fine. I would say most of the soreness lasted from Tuesday – Sunday. I had been keeping up with the support group and all the problems my friends were having. I never had gas or the feeling of gas. I never had a problem going to the bathroom. I never threw up, had trouble swallowing, etc. I did not really hurt at all. When I spoke with the nutritionist a few weeks later, I asked her, “If I did not think it would be a very cruel, expensive joke, I would think that they did not thing at all to me. Did they not do anything and not tell me?” She laughed and said that they did in fact complete the sleeve procedure. I still wonder.

When I got to eat mush food, I was so excited. It was a couple of days before Christmas and I felt like I was able to enjoy the holiday and some food with my family. We made things that I could eat, and that was great. I remember the first time I ate pintos and cheese. It was heaven. And mashed potatoes? A delight. People said I would get tired of the mushy phase. For me? Nope. Not one bit.

Later I could eat semi-regular diet. That was nice, and I have been doing that up until today. I ate tuna, grilled chicken tenders, pork BBQ, and I even tried a little beef. People said that they had trouble with that one, but me, like usual, and had no trouble with it at all. Today is the regular diet. Other than eating the nuts with my P3, I am not sure how I would do it differently. I know you can eat raw veggies now, but I do not really eat them anyway. Maybe lettuce? I love salads, but I will make sure I can eat that before I go and dig in. And I am sure more fruit.

Since surgery day I have lost around 35 lbs. 35 in a month and 10 days. I know people who have lost a lot more in a lot less time. I do not want to be one of those people who putt putt along. I want to get this train a-rolling. I know one thing that would help that I have not done. Walk. If you have this procedure done, walk, walk, walk. I am going to start this week. That will make all the difference. You have to be active along with your diet.

I can notice a change in my clothes. I pretty much went down two sizes in pants and tops in a couple of weeks. I am wearing pants that I ordered a year ago and could not wear right now. That feels good. I have not measured myself in a while, so I am not sure about inches yet. Some days I feel like a failure. Like I am eating too much, I am cheating somehow, I am not doing things right. Then I think, you are overthinking things. I am constantly wondering if I have stretched my stomach out already. When I think about it though, I realize, I have not had any sugar, unless it is naturally in food, I have not had anything fried, I have not had hardly any carbs. I cannot beat myself up all the time. Things are going to be okay, and they are right now.

I am so happy I had the surgery. It has made me so happy, and I feel so lucky. 2017 is off to a great start!

One Week Check Up, and Emotional Check In

Hey, guys! How has your week been so far? Looking forward to the weekend? I am because my sister is coming home from DC, but I am dreading the organizing that will have to take place to get everything ready for the visit. I love the holidays. I love spending time with family and friends, I love to buy and give gifts for people, and the general feeling of joy that people have for each other that they may not have throughout the year normally.

Most years I also looked forward to the food. Christmas Eve breakfast, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas breakfast/brunch, and Christmas night dinner. Not to mention the treats that Santa brought to our stockings. That does not even count the candy that would be consumed throughout the holiday season. This year, however, is different. I will be on a soft food diet, thank goodness, I will be able to eat some real food. That will be so nice. The idea of humus or refried beans with cheese brings me such excitement that you would think it was a delicacy. I am very fortunate that I have not really had any “head hunger.” I have not really had any hunger period, so the idea of eating that sandwich or cookie does not make me feel like I am missing out. Actually, I find it hard to get in my three protein shakes or soups each day because I just do not feel like eating or drinking. It is the same way with water. I just do not feel thirsty either. Plus, as I may have said before, I worry about the “sip, sip, sip,” and not my “gulp, gulp, gulp.” I have become paranoid about what goes in and how.

This Tuesday I went to the doctor for my one week visit after sleeve surgery. I was a little nervous because of course I wanted to know how much weight I had lost, but also because they were going to remove my staples. I have a high tolerance for pain, but things like that freak me out, I will tense up, and it hurts even more. I went in and had a small wait, enough that I got more and more nervous. When I was called back they went and weighed me. I had lost over 14 lbs. in one week! 14! I was so excited. I know that at some point I will hit a stall while my body catches up according to what I have read, or might gain/lose/gain/lose the same couple of pounds on a small plateau, and eventually slow down the weight loss as I get towards my goal. But for right now, I have so much weight to lose that I am getting excited over these large losses.

After the weigh in they took my blood pressure, which was good, it had been high before. I think it was all the stress, running around, and extra weight I was moving. While I have only lost 18 lbs. since the day I started my liquid diet, I can already feel better in my body. My feet are normal size and fit back into my beloved Penny Loafers! My back does not hurt as bad, I feel like I have more energy, I do not feel like I get as easily winded, etc. I know this will just continue to trend in the right direction. Next came the big guns. This woman with the sweetest, yet firm and a little gruff voice came in all cheerful and said she was going to remove my staples. I asked if it would hurt, and she reassured me that she had been doing this for thousands of surgeries, it only felt uncomfortable if it was bent or twisted a little, and that she would be extra careful. After telling me that it would not really hurt, I was ready. She started out with the incision that was tiny and only had one staple. She removed it, and if I did not know that she was doing anything, I never could have known. She was AMAZING!!! She went on to remove about 8-10 staples, and I never felt any pain at all. She then placed a little glue on the incisions, and some butterfly bandages over them that she said I leave on, and even shower with, and they would eventually curl up and come off on their own. Then… I was done! I was totally worked up over nothing! I also was given a card that let restaurants know that I needed to eat off the children’s menu. I had been sent a laminated one in the mail from the Weight Loss Coordinator, but this was good because I have a tendency to lose things. Okay, that was being nice, I always lose things. I am going to laminate that one too, and keep them with my ID. I would think that this would not be a problem at a lot of places, but I was once at a restaurant where they gave my friend a hassle about eating off the children’s menu and she brought out that card, and it solved everything.

I have not really dated seriously in a few years. Not just my weight, but for other reasons. Although, my weight plays a huge part into it. My sister says that if I date a guy who is only interested in me because of my looks and weight, then he is shallow and not worth my time. But here is the deal. I am not comfortable in my own body. I do not want to put myself out there. I feel like if I cannot love myself right now, how can I feel comfortable for someone else to love me too? I know that sounds crazy, but if I am being totally honest, and I am… I am an open book, that is how I feel. Plus, I am attracted to a very specific type of guy. I feel to get someone who is that person, I want to be like the old smaller me. You may wonder where in the world this came from. This ties back to the dining card. When I go out on a date, I plan on excusing myself after being seated, speaking to the hostess, our waiter, or manager, explaining the situation, getting it taken care of beforehand so when I order, there is no discussion. I feel this is good planning on my part, and like me, OCD and organized. My car may be a disaster, my dad calls it the motor-sicle, because only one person can ride in it. My desk may be a “mess,” but it is organized clutter. I know where everything is. Everything has its place. I may have three Yeti cups on my desk right now, but they are all in specific places, at certain angles, and hold various beverages. See, there is a method to my madness. That may sound over the top, and I might even call ahead if I know where I am going, but I feel it is better than trying to explain this in front of a new date, stranger, or someone who I do not want to try and explain my situation to right away. See… I have thought all this out. I always say my mind is like a ping pong match. I am constantly thinking and bouncing around ideas and thoughts. It is at night when I have to go to bed that I have trouble.

Also, I have something a little more personal to share. While driving home from the doctor’s office one of my favorite songs came on. The first few times I heard it I cried. A lot. Probably not a shocker, but I cry a lot over anything. When I am mad, hurt, happy, frustrated, excited, at weddings, funerals, books, movies, at work when I read something sweet over email, I have cried over celebrity deaths like Andy Griffith while sitting at my desk at work. But this song hit a particular heart string with me. It is Try by Colbie Caillat. This is a song that has received critical acclaim, though you do not hear it as much as songs about degrading women. It is empowering. Let me quote the parts that really hit home:

“Put your make-up on Get your nails done Curl your hair Run the extra mile Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?”

“You don’t have to try so hard You don’t have to, give it all away You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up You don’t have to change a single thing”

“Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you Do they like you?

Wait a second, Why, should you care, what they think of you When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you? Do you like you?”

“Take your make-up off Let your hair down Take a breath Look into the mirror, at yourself Don’t you like you? ‘Cause I like you” ~ Colbie Caillat ~ Try, June 9, 2014 (Selected portions)

So many times when we are overweight we can let it define who we are. It can also depend on when you began to gain weight and become overweight. It can take someone confident and outgoing and make them insecure, depressed, and turn inward. It can make someone jaded and bitter. It can soften someone’s heart and make them a better, more caring, person who is more forgiving and sympathetic. It can make you “funnier,” make you have a “fat heart,” and let out your pain by making a joke before being a joke in your own eyes.

For me this song says a lot. I have always been one who was constantly looking in the mirror, wearing makeup everywhere I went, checking to see how I looked. I was told I was vain by an authority figure who hurt me terribly, while he did not know the entire reason I did that was I was looking for flaws. I was afraid if I did not look perfect (or as good as I could get), I was not worthy of love, I was disgusting, people were staring at me and laughing. I never did it because of the fact I thought I was pretty and wanted to look good. This section says a lot:  “Put your make-up on/Get your nails done/Curl your hair/Run the extra mile/Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?” I want to be slim because in my warped mind I think people will like me better, respond to me better, just all around care more for me. I know this is a crazy train of thought because I am super friendly and cheerful, and people usually gravitate towards me. Funny how you beat yourself up when you have no reason to at all. Then this:  “Take your make-up off/Let your hair down/Take a breath/Look into the mirror, at yourself/Don’t you like you?/’Cause I like you.” No. When I see myself without my makeup, my hair a naturally curly mess, look in the mirror and I am devastated by what I see. There are so many people out there who care for me and love me, and I do not love myself. When they read this, they will be shocked and hurt. They will offer words of encouragement, and one cousin will give me tough love, but I cannot listen to them. I hear it, I just do not feel it.

But let’s also face the truth. I have been in therapy for over 8, almost 9 years. I have not been overweight that entire time. During my sessions over the past 5 years I discussed my weight often. I also talked about depression as well. She pointed out, and we both talked about the fact that, “What if you do lose the weight you want to lose?” Just because I lose the weight, my problems are not going to magically disappear. I am not going to go from a clinically depressed person to someone who is sincerely deep down “On” all the time. My problems will not melt away with the pounds. There could even still be a new depression from the fact I will have loose skin. I may not have that tight tummy I have longed for all my life. My arms may not be made of steel. My rear end will be just as flat as it has always been and not have the nice curve that every girl wants. I have to be realistic. We want to lose weight to be healthy, so we can find answers to fertility problems, feel like our lives can finally begin, be more active in our kids or family’s lives, to look good in that little black dress, or for me… in a sexy trench coat and pair of strappy heels and nothing else. We all have our reasons. Mine may be more superficial, along with medical. But we all need to come to an understanding of why we are going through this process, this journey, and think of our futures. Where do you see yourself 18 months after the surgery when you lose most of the weight, if not all, that you have set as a goal? Will you be working on you on the inside too? Will you be preparing yourself for loose skin? Hair that might thin? New worries like making a forever life change in eating to keep up the weight loss. Will you gain confidence now that you are smaller? Will you be willing to put yourself out there more? I hope and pray for each one of you that you will get all the positives of losing the weight, and let the tougher times not control you. Do not let loose skin define you. Let it be a reminder of where you came from. Know that just because you get into those smaller jeans, it may not all be kicks and giggles, and do not let it control your emotions or feelings of self-worth. You are beautiful. You are a child of The King. You are amazing, and special, and smart, talented, and loved. You may feel, who loves me? There is a higher power of love for you, but on a human level, I love you. I may not know you by name, but I do. Every time someone likes my post, or comments, I think of you and you are on my mind.

I am a religious person, but I am not going to be preachy. But let me leave you with these words that, yes, bring me to tears and have gotten me through very tough times:

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well With my soul It is well, it is well with my soul.” ~ Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss. First published in Gospel Songs No. 2 by Sankey and Bliss (1876)

Know this this worry, stress, hurt will pass. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and let your heart say, “It is well with my soul.”

~ A